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New study reveals that climate change will severely impact bird species by 2080

Bioscientists from Durham University, UK and Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Germany have predicted in their latest research that bird communities will change worldwide in 2080 due to climate change, largely as result of shifting their ranges.

For the projections of the bird communities to the year 2080, the team of scientists related past bird distributions to climate data and then applied these relationships to two future climate scenarios—based on low and medium greenhouse gas emissions—to predict changes in species distributions.

The team looked not only at changes in numbers of species in areas but also at the types of species that would occur.

 To summarize changes in species types they calculated something called phylogenetic diversity that summarizes how many different types of birds would occur.

They investigated how the communities of birds all over the world could change in the future and discovered that climate change will not only affect species numbers but will also have profound effects on phylogenetic diversity and community composition.

The researchers evaluated data for a total of 8,768 bird species globally to predict how many different lineages could be lost regionally, or added, as species respond to climate change by shifting their distributions.

Although the researchers project species losses to be most common in tropical and subtropical areas, phylogenetic restructuring of species communities is expected to occur around the world.

Their full study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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